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Monthly Archives: November 2013

Typical #13

A couple of days ago I posted on IG two shots of an old church, St. Tiburzio………

The church of St. Tiburzio, currently deconsecrated , is located in an old and narrow alley in the city center. The church dates from the V century and it became parish in the 1230. In the XV century it depended on the abbey of St. Giovanni Evangelista.
To the church it was attached a convent, erect in 1386, of the converts of St. Tiburzio under the rule of the Third Order of St. Francis ; the community was dissolved in 1810 and in 1885 the church  passed under the control of the Filippo Neri congregation, a brotherhood for the assistance to the poors and the sicks.

The church was closed in 1913 and, after a restauration, the cult was reopened around 1945 for the spiritual assistance to the near university students.
The building is owned by the town council and Mass in no officiated anymore. The church was restored in the actual forms around 1720 on a project of  Edelberto dalla Nave, a parmesan architect who worked a lot here but was formed at the Florence academy.

The building, of small dimensions, has the form of a Greek cross and is covered by an octagonal “tiburio” (dome cladding).  The façade consists of two levels, the lower articulated by four columns with ionic capitals, the upper one presents lesenes (pilaster strips). In the niches close to the portal are situated the statues of the Faith and the Charity, (now closed and protected by wood boxed) while on the entablature the four statues of St. Filippo Neri, St. Carlo Borromeo, St. Nicola and San Vincenzo de’ Paul, all realized by Agostino Ferrarini and inserted on the façade in the 1885 (these also in wood boxes, till it will be decided the best way to restore them…and how to find the money). Ferrarini also provided the sculptures of the Four Cardinal Virtues in the inside, while the frescos with the Evangelists of the dome and the Assumption in the vault are works of Giovanni Gaibazzi.

Too bad the church is closed and it seems there’s no money to restore and open it to the public (like many others buildings) because I’m sure it has in stores beautiful treasures inside….


 

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Posted by on November 29, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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A charity sunday

Last sunday hubby and I went to our city main stadium to attend a very special football game.

It was for a special occasion, a charity event to raise money for the Marco Simoncelli Foundation, in order to renovate an old house in his hometown to use as a day care for disabled people.

It was a nice afternoon among friends, as everyone feels to be, part of Marco’s family, lot of people went there on bike, and it was so amusing, as Marco would have liked it.

 

The match was between the Italian Singers National Football Team (and not only singers but actors also, a team born many years ago just for charity events – “chapeau” to them) and a new team called ” Friends of Sic”. The match was won by the latter but the result wasn’t that important. The important thing is that the event raised (from the tickets sale and the sms sent) more than 100,000 Euros.

There were lots of famous people who wanted to be there to play or not, just to add visibility to the event and to attract attention…..Martin Finnigan, singer of the Rainband, (and spokeperson for the Foundation in the UK) sang their hit “Rise Again” opening the event https://soundcloud.com/therainbandofficial/rise-again

Former ski champion Alberto Tomba was there for the kick-off ……………..

and italian singer Zucchero “Sugar” Fornaciari to support the team and his younger son, playing in the match….

Among the football pros, Leonardo played for the Singers Team, while Crespo (one of our local heroes, the most beloved) played for the Sic Team

The most cheered of the day however was Valentino Rossi obviously, the Sic Team Captain….here while greeting his fans and with Paolo, Marco Simoncelli’s father…

It never ceases to amaze me how these two are really close (Vale was Marco best friend for all of his life) considering the fact it was him (and Edwards) who struck in the body of the fallen Marco when he died…..

It was a beautiful day, remembering with a smile a young man gone too soon, doing good for others and sharing passions…..

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on November 22, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Belgrade to eat

First of all, our Excelsior Hotel, big breakfast each morning and a tasteful dinner…………(dinner price € 23,00 for two)

Then, absolutely to try. a spanish restaurant in an elegant house in the pedestrial zone, El Hispano………mouth watering ……….fish and shellfish of course… (the most expensive – lol –  € 40,00 for two)

An Italian name but also internationa cuisine, sooooo good!! Piazza dei Fiori, best risotto ever and a tasteful cesar salad…..(€ 25,00 for two)

A coffee break at Vapiano is priceless…………for the place and the atmosphere also………( 2 coffee, 1 small water and 2 slices of cake, about € 6,00)

The best lunch was at the oldest “kefana” (trattoria) in town, Kafana ? – salad, gulash, water and turkish coffee,  € 19,00 for two)

A good dinner, very nice place with a goodlooking and talkative waiter at The Orient Express Restaurant, esotic background but international dishes (two courses each of us + water at € 25,00)

The Orient Express is just in front of the Mosca Hotel, so we crossed to square to sit in their cake shop to say a proper goodbye to Belgrade….(2 cakes, 2 coffee and water, just € 7,00)

With that food quality at those prices? I have just one thing to say……….I WANT TO COME BACK!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on November 14, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Belgrade, Serbia – Along the Sava River & a Night Walk

We had a very nice and relaxing walk down the hill near the Fortress, towards the Sava River.

The sun was about to set down, the first lights were on, few people around and all was very quiet……….

We walked but someone uses the bycicle to enjoy the view………..

We saw other damaged houses along the river…………

and a few floating “kafana” as they call the old “trattoria”….

We crossed the railways, the main buses station and we were back in the city center, for our last night walk……….some places were familiar, other unknown but charming nevertheless…..

Republic Square with the statue of Prince Michael, the National Museum at his back and the National Theatre on his right

The bronze statue of Prince Michael on a horse, by the Italian sculptor Enrico Pazzi was erected in 1882. It was erected in honor of the Prince’s most important political achievement, complete expulsion of the Turks from Serbia and liberation of the remaining 7 cities within (then) Serbian territory, still under the Turkish rule (1867). The names of the cities are carved on a plates on the monument itself, on the statue’s pedestal and prince is sculptured with his hand allegedly pointing to Constantinople, showing the Turks to leave. During recent years, the role and honor of prince somewhat fell into the oblivion and the statue became simply known as kod konja (Serbian for ‘at the horse’).

The present square was formed after the demolition of the Stambol Gate in 1866 and the construction of the National Theatre in 1869. The gate was built in the 18th century by the Austrian, and stood in the area between the present Prince Mihailo monument and the National Theatre building. The gate was named after the road which led through it to Constantinople. The people remembered the Stambol Gate as the place in front of which the Turks executed the “raya”, their non-Muslim subjects, by impaling them on stakes. It was also the place where during the attack on Belgrade in 1806 in the First Serbian Uprising, one of the leading Serb military commanders, Vasa Čarapić, was fatally wounded. After the establishment of Serbian rule and the demolition of the Stambol Gate, the site of the present square was not laid out for a long time. The National Theatre was the only large building standing here for more than thirty years and until Communist rule after 1945 it was named Pozorišni Trg (Theatre square). The square gradually started to acquire more buildings after the monument to Prince Mihailo was erected in 1882. The place where now the National Museum is, was the location of long single-storied building which housed, among other things, the famous “Dardaneli restaurant”. This was the meeting-place of members of the artistic circles at the time. The building was pulled down to make way in 1903 for the Treasury (now the building of the National Museum).

Most of the buildings were destroyed during the German bombing on April 6, 1941. After World War II the tram tracks were removed (until then, a tram terminus was here), and the square, on which for a short time were the crypt and the monument to the Red Army soldiers died during the Belgrade Offensive in 1944, was removed (their remains have been transferred to the Cemetery of the Liberators of Belgrade). Later, the biggest building on this square, the “Press House” was constructed, so as the “City Restaurant” and the International Press Center.

On one side, the square extends to the Knez Mihailova street, the pedestrian zone and one of the main commercial sections of Belgrade

Students Park and Square

Studentski Trg is located halfway between the Republic Square and the Kalemegdan park-fortress. Studentski Trg was projected as the first in a succession of squares around Belgrade’s central route from Kalemegdan to Slavija. In time, Studentski Trg and Terazije pretty much lost their square functions, becoming streets. Studentski Trg is turned into the turning point and terminal station for bus lines. Studentski Trg is location of many educational and cultural institutions, thus the names (Students Square, Academy Park, etc.).

Finansijski Park the first public garden in Belgrade

The sculpture “Takovski Uprising,” by Peter Ubavkić, showing Prince Miloš and Archbishop  Melentije Pavlovic, situated in a park surrounded by imposing governmet buildings….

The Church of the Ascension is located in Admirala Geprata Street. It was built in 1863 by order of Prince Mihailo Obrenović, for the soldiers from the Grand Barracks located nearby. The bell tower contains several bells, including the one that sounded for the first time on the Cathedral Church in 1830 when the Principality of Serbia gained its autonomy. The church was designed in accordance with then prevailing romanticism, in the tradition of the old Serbian monasteries , especially Ravanica . It was seriously damaged in the bombing of Belgrade in 1941 and 1944 that killed many people . In the courtyard in front of the church is a monument to the fallen in the shape of a cross.

The Greek Embassy

And that was our good-bye to Belgrade. It was really a surprise, a joy and a thrill this city, that had so much more to offer if we just had the time…..

 
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Posted by on November 13, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Belgrade, Serbia – The heart of the city

We decided to explore parts of the city of Belgrade not so glamourous but real, where the real people lives. Actually we didn’t find tourists there, our walk was so quiet and amazing….

Toplicin Venac, square and district, is a quiet part of the city, not so many people around and the ones we met all had a smile for us….we sat on a bench just enjoying the fresh air and the pigeons around. The statue in the square is dedicated to Vojin Popović, known as Vojvoda Vuk (9 December 1881 – 29 November 1916), a Serbian voivode (military commander), that fought for the Macedonian Serb Chetniks in the struggle for Macedonia, and then the national army in the Balkan Wars and World War I.

In this part of town you can see the buindings still carrying the signs of the Yugoslav Wars, not so much money to restore them, a few have been taken back to previous splendor (most of time with the state help if important buildings were involved)…………..

Then we walked through a well restored area that houses some embassies (the majority of them is located near the National Assembly) such as the French and the Austrian ones…..

till we reached the old Princess Ljubica Residence

Princess Ljubica’s Residence was built between 1829 and 1831 by Hadži-Nikola Živković, a pioneer of contemporary Serbian architecture. The residence was built on order by prince Miloš Obrenović for his wife Ljubica and their children, the future rulers Milan and Mihailo. They began living in the residence in 1831, living there for the following ten years. It is preserved as the most representative city house from the first half of 19th century. Architecturally, it contains Ottoman attributes (the so-called Serbian-Balkan style) but with elements of classicism which anticipate future Western influences on architecture in Belgrade. Following the ascension of Alexander Karađorđević, Prince of Serbia, the building changed its purpose many times: it once housed the Belgrade Higher School, appellate court (Court of Cassation), a museum of art, a church museum, home for the elderly, and the Department for the Protection of the Monuments of Culture of Serbia. Nowadays, it is a part of the Museum of Belgrade and is used as an exhibition space. Permanent exhibit includes original furniture made in Ottoman Balkan style and many other styles of that time.

The nice street we followed from here headed to the real Cathedral of Belgrade………….

………..St. Michael Cathedral

The Cathedral Church of St. Michael the Archangel  is a Serb Orthodox Christian church, one of the most important places of worship in the country. It is commonly known as just Saborna crkva (The Cathedral) among the city residents.

The cathedral was built from 1837 to 1840 by order of prince Miloš Obrenović, according to the design and plans of Adam Friedrich Kwerfeld, a builder from Pančevo. The church was built in the style of classicism with late baroque elements. The church is dedicated to St. Michael the Archangel. The special value of the church is its treasury. The relics of Serbian saints king Uroš and despot Stefan Štiljanović, as well as the heads of the Church and Serbian rulers of the Obrenović dynasty (Miloš, Mihailo and Milan).

The interior is richly decorated. The gold-plated carved iconostasis was made by the sculptor Dimitrije Petrović, while the icons on the iconostasis, thrones, choirs and pulpits, as well as those on the walls and arches were painted by Dimitrije Avramović, one of the most distinguished Serbian painters of the 19th century. It’s forbidden to take photos on the inside of the church, so this is precious and not so good but I had to hide my cell phone…..

Today’s building of the Patriarchate was built from 1934 until 1935 and designed by the architect Viktor Lukomski. It is located across Saborna Crkva. The building has a square base, it is solid and has monumental forms. On the main facade, against the Cathedral Church, an impressive portico stands out, with low columns and an arched portal above which is a sculpted coat of arms of the Patriarchate of Serbia. On the top of this facade, in a niche, is a mosaic composition representing St. John the Baptist. In the east part of the building, there is a chapel dedicated to St. Simeon. It contains a carved iconostasis, the work of Ohrid masters, bearing icons painted in 1935 by Vladimir Predojević. Cathedral Church of St. Michael the Archangel was declared Monument of Culture of Exceptional Importance in 1979, and it is protected by Republic of Serbia. The Library and Museum of Serbian Orthodox Church are in this building, too.

From here we walked to the western part of what they call the ” bohemian” quarter of Belgrade, because we were not really interested in the local gipsy way of life (after all the restaurants and bars are all the same and we dind’t want to buy local arts) but to see with our own eyes the war damages still there like open wounds………..and there we were, in the neighbour of Kosančićev Venac.

Kosančićev Venac is practically the oldest section of Belgrade outside the walls of the Kalemegdan fortress. From this point the new Serbian town, as opposed to the old Turkish one in the fortress, began expanding in the 1830s along the right bank of the Sava into Savamala. In 1979 Kosančićev Venac was officially added to the Spatial Cultural-Historical Units of Great Importance list, and named a Monument of Culture, with explanation: “it is the area of the oldest Serbian settlement, the first developed administrative, cultural, spiritual and economic center of the city with specific ambient qualities”.

In January 2007 city government announced ambitious plans for the revitalization of Kosančićev Venac and the neighboring riverside section of Savamala. The first concern is the stabilization of the ground as the entire western slope of the ridge descending to the Sava is a mass wasting area (the leaning of the Cathedral Church is already visible from a distance). Kosančićev Venac is projected as the future cultural center of Belgrade. As it is not allowed to change the general shape of the neighborhood, Kosančićev Venac is declared a “zone of minor interventions” with several specific points of reconstruction. First of all, the Memorial center of the National Library of Serbia; National library was located in Kosančićev Venac until it was destroyed in German bombing of Belgrade on April 6, 1941. A memorial center to commemorate the old location will be built but not as a monument but as a vigorous and modern cultural institution (see below the actual state of the site)

From here a steep staircase leads to a little park called Park of the Non-Aligned Movement with an obelisk in the center (ruined by some writings)

Descending the hill, our next destination was the Sava river……………

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Belgrade, Serbia – St. Mark & Tasmajdan Park

The Saint Mark Church, dedicated to Holy Apostle and Evangelist Mark, was built between the two world wars, beginning in 1931, and completed in 1940. It is located in the Tašmajdan Park, in the centre of Belgrade. The interior is still not fully completed.

A Christian place of worship has existed continuously in what is today Tašmajdan Park from at least the nineteenth century. The original St. Mark’s Church, built in the days of Belgrade Metropolitan Petar Jovanović (1833–1859) and Prince Miloš Obrenović (1835–1836), stood in almost the same location, just slightly south of the present building. At a time when Turkish troops were still quartered in the city and the present-day Orthodox Cathedral, for example, was built of wood, this was a great spiritual event for Belgrade. The patron endower of the church was Lazar Panća, a merchant originally from the village of Katranica in Southern Serbia who died in Belgrade in 1831. The church was located in a cemetery, as is often the case, and the cemetery was taken care of by the church administration. There was a quarry of rock (and saltpeter) in Tašmajdan that was also in use in the time of the Turks and later used to build many things in present-day Belgrade. According to accounts by contemporaries, before St. Mark’s Church was actually built a cross was placed on that spot and a shade tent where Holy Liturgy and religious processions in Palilula were held. Sreten Popović, a Belgrade native, wrote in the 1870s “that there were some ruins there and that they were said to be from an old church, which by all accounts was dedicated to St. Mark”. The same writer mentions the hilltop grave where the sultan’s edict (hatisherif) was readin 1830. The old St. Mark’s Church was a rectangular building whose exterior surface area was 11.5 by 21 meters and whose interior, usable space was 7.75 by 17.46 meters. At the same time Prince Miloš Obrenović built the palatial church of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul in Topčider (completed in 1834). Work on both churches was supervised by Hadži-Nikola Živković from Vodeni (1792–1870), the first great builder in the restored Serbia, and his master builders Janja and Nikola. In about 1870 St. Mark’s Church had two parishes, that of Terazije with 312 homes and Palilula with 318 homes. During World War I the Austrian conquerors restored the church in 1917. The original church existed until the beginning of World War II. During the German bombing on Palm Sunday, April 13, 1941, the church caught fire and the damage was so extensive that its remains were completely removed in 1942.
Divine service took place in the new church during the war and after it until November 14, 1948 in the adapted narthex of the church. On that date the church was consecrated (by Patriarch Gavrilo Dožić) and the church opened for divine service. There were plans to decorate the whole interior with frescoes. In construction style, the church is a monumental edifice built in the spirit of Serbian medieval buildings, using as a model the endowment of King Milutin, Gračanica Monastery near Priština in Kosovo. Of course, the dimensions of the church are much larger and everything appears grand and powerful. The external walls are in two colors of natural materials in the Serbian-Byzantine building method. This church is a good example of how beautiful old spiritual models fashioned with new building materials can appear in an urban setting without losing anything of their authenticity and simplicity. The church bell tower is a part of the church itself on the west side.

St. Mark’s Church is 62 meters long and 45 meters wide, and the height of the main cupola to the base of the cross is 60 meters. The usable interior surface area of the church is about 1,150 square meters, and the naos (nave) of the church can accommodate over 150 singers. It has already been said that more than seventy years after the beginning of its construction, St. Mark’s Church has not been completed. This relates primarily to its interior, decorating, fresco painting, appropriate lighting, acoustics, heating and ventilation. After World War II little was done in the church itself for objective reasons. Above the entrance door to the church on the external façade is an icon in mosaic of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist Mark, the work of Veljko Stanojevć in 1961. The floor in the church is from 1974, while the floor of the soleia (area in front of the iconostasis and the altar (sanctuary) was done in marble in 1991. The iconostasis of the church, designed by architect and professor Zoran Petrović, dates back to 1991/1992 and was done in marble, while the icons in it are done in mosaic, the work of academic painter Đuro Radulović from Belgrade from 1996-1998. The altar table is also in marble with smaller mosaics on the front side. To the right of the altar is a smaller altar dedicated to the Holy Despot Stefan Lazarević († 1427), and the altar on the north side is dedicated to the feast day of the Transfiguration of the Lord.

As one enters the church on the right side along the south wall of the church is the marble tomb of Emperor Stefan Dušan († 1355) designed by Dr. Dragomir Tadić where his holy relics rest after being transferred from his endowment, Saint Archangels Monastery near Prizren, a monastery that has lain in ruins for centuries.

On the opposite, north side the tomb of Patriarch German (Đoić, † 1991) has been built in the same style and of the same material. In the middle of the church underneath the central cupola is apolielei done in copper according to the design of Dr. Dragomir Tadić in 1969, and executed by academic sculptor Dragutin Petrović.

Below the narthex of the church is the crypt which was adapted during 2007.
Outside the church, on its right, there’s Tasmajdan Park.
Almost two millennia ago, Romans were extracting stone from the quarry located in the area for the building of Belgrade’s predecessor, Singidunum and for many surviving sarcophagi from that period.The quarry remained operational during Ottoman period, thus giving the name to the entire location (Turkish taş, stone and meydan, square), though it was also used for the extraction of saltpeter, which was used in the gunpowder production. Due to the proximity to the town, basically all stone buildings and walls in Belgrade from Ottoman period were built from the stone extracted here. Some historians believe that this is the actual place where the remains of the Serbian Saint Sava were burned at the stake in 1595 by the Ottoman grand vizier Sinan Pasha (area known as Little Vračar) and not the Vračar hill itself or Crveni Krst, another alternative site.
During the First Serbian Uprising and the subsequent Siege of Belgrade in autumn of 1806, leader of the Uprising Karađorđe set his camp in Tašmajdan and conducted the liberation of Belgrade from there. A mound in the eastern section of the area was used for public reading of decrees and laws. It was here that on November 30, 1830 the Sultan’s hattisherif (decree) was publicly announced, declaring autonomy (de facto, internal independence) of Serbia and granting hereditary ruling rights to the Obrenović dynasty.
After the successful Second Serbian Uprising when Serbian prince Miloš Obrenović ordered the building of a new town around the old Kalemegdan fortress, he also ordered that the old Serbian cemetery from Varoš-kapija (City gate) be moved to Tašmajdan, which was done in 1828. New cemetery was intended as and “international” contrary to the existing practice, so beside Serbs, it was also the burial place for Hungarians, Germans, Greeks, Italians and French. In the western section of the cemetery the Catholics and Protestants were buried, Serbs on the central promenade, while area around modern Seisomology Institute was left for the soldiers, suicides and drowned ones. In 1835 a small Palilulska church was built. Some of the most important Serbs from this period were buried in the churchyard. Belgraders protested because new cemetery, built on an inhabited fields, gardens and vineyards was away from then downtown, but already in the 1850s, the area surrounding the cemetery was completely urbanised, so the first plans for moving it again originate from 1871. City government bought the cemetery land in 1882 and gradual restriction of burials was conducted until it was closed in fully closed 1901. It was moved to the new Novo Groblje (new cemetery), several blocks to the east, beginning from 1886 and the moving was finally completed in 1927 with park being planted instead of the old cemetery.

Tašmajdan was bombed again during the 1999 NATO bombing of Serbia when several objects in Tašmajdan park were badly hit: 23 April 1999 – At 2:06 NATO bombed the building of the Serbian Broadcasting Corporation (RTS) situated in Tašmajdan park. Part of the building collapsed, trapping people who were working in the building that night. Sixteen people were killed while many were trapped for days; 24 April 1999 – A children’s theatre “Duško Radović” in the heart of Tašmajdan park was badly damaged due to its close proximity to neighbouring buildings that were bombed.

30 June 1999 – A heart-like shaped monument was erected by the city of Belgrade for all the children that have died in the bombing. The monument says “We were just children” in English and Serbian.

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Belgrade, Serbia – Kalemegdan & Fortress

Kalemegdan Park is the largest park and the most important historical monument in Belgrade. It is located on a 125-metre-high (410 ft) cliff, at the junction of the River Sava and the Danube. Its name is formed from the two Turkish words: “Kale” (meaning “fortress”) and archaic word of turkish origin “megdan” (meaning “plaza”).

The Kalemegdan Park, split in two as the Large and Little parks, was developed in the area that once was the town field. It provides places of rest and entertainment. The Belgrade Fortress and the Kalemegdan Park together represent a cultural monument of exceptional importance, the area where various sport, cultural and arts events take place, for all generations of Belgraders and numerous visitors of the city. The first works on arranging the town field Kalemegdan started in 1869. During March 1891, the pathways were cut through, and trees were planted; in 1903 the Little Staircase was built, based on the project of Jelisaveta Načić, the first woman architect in Serbia, while the Big Staircase, designed by architect Aleksandar Krstic, was built in 1928.

The Monument of Gratitude to France, a work of sculptor Ivan Mestrovic was ceremoniously unveiled in 1930 in the presence of king Aleksandar Karadjordjevic. The monument was put up at the initiative of the Society of Friends of France and Society of Former Pupils of the French School in the same location where once stood the memorial dedicated to Karadjorde, which was destroyed during the First World War, to thank France for its help to the country during the war.

We choose the Karageorge‘s Gate to enter the inner part of the park, where the Fortress is.

Belgrade Fortress is the core and the oldest section of the urban area of Belgrade and for centuries the city population was concentrated only within the walls of the fortress, thus the history of the fortress, until most recent history, equals the history of Belgrade itself. First mention of the city is when it was founded in the 3rd century BC as “Singidunum” by the Celtic tribe of Scordisci who had defeated Thracian and Dacian tribes that previously lived at the fort and around. The city-fortress was later conquered by the Romans, became known as Singidunum and became a part of “the military frontier”, where the Roman Empire bordered “barbaric Central Europe”. Singidunum was defended by the Roman legion IV Flaviae which built a fortified camp on a hill at the confluence of the rivers the Danube and the Sava. In the period between AD 378 and 441 the Roman camp was being repeatedly destroyed in the invasions by the Goths and the Huns. The legend says that Attila’s grave lies on the confluence of the Sava and the Danube (under the Fortress). In 476 Belgrade again became the borderline between the empires: Western Roman Empire and Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantine Empire), and the Slav-Avar State in the North.

The Byzantine Emperor Justinian I rebuilt the Fortress around 535. In the following centuries a fortress suffered continuous destruction under the Avar sieges. The Slavs (Serbs) and Avars had their “state union” north of Belgrade with the Serbs and other Slavic tribes finally settling in the region of Belgrade as well as the regions west and south of Belgrade in the beginning of the 7th century. The name Belgrade (or Beograd, in Serbian), which, not just in Serbian but in most Slavic languages means a “white town” or a “white fortress”, was first mentioned in AD 878 by Bulgarians. The Fortress kept changing its masters: Bulgaria during three centuries, and then again the Byzantines and again Bulgarians. The fortress remained a Byzantine stronghold until the 12th century when it fell in the hands of a newly emerging Serbian state. It became a border city of the Serbian Kingdom, later Empire, with Hungary. The Hungarian king Béla I gave the fortress to Serbia in 11th century as a wedding gift (his son married Serbian princess Jelena), but it remained effectively part of Hungary, except for the period 1282-1319. After the Serbian state collapsed after the Battle of Kosovo, Belgrade was chosen in 1404 as the capital of the principality of Despot Stefan Lazarević. Major work was done to the ramparts which were encircling a big thriving town. The lower town at the banks of the Danube was the main urban center with a new build Orthodox cathedral. The upper town with its castle was defending the city from inland. Belgrade remained in Serbian hands for almost a century. After the Despot’s death in 1427 it had to be returned to Hungary. An attempt of Sultan Mehmed II to conquer the fortress was prevented by Janos Hunyadi in 1456 (Siege of Belgrade). It saved Hungary from an Ottoman management for 70 years.

In 1521, 132 years after the Battle of Kosovo, the fortress, like most parts of the Serbian state, was conquered by the Turks and remained (with short periods of the Austrian and Serbian occupation), under the rule of the Ottoman Empire until the year 1867 when the Turks withdrew from Belgrade and Serbia. During the period of short Austrian rule (1718–1738) the fortress was largely rebuilt and modernized. It witnessed two Serbian Uprisings in the 19th century, the Great Serbian Migration in the 17th century, the Turkish Period. The fortress suffered further damages during the First and the Second world wars. After almost two millennia of continuous sieges, battles and conquests the fortress is today known as the Belgrade Fortress.

Through another gate, Stambol Gate, we went deeper inside the Fortress, between the two walls, a space once filled with water, that now houses artillery pieces from different wars and a War Museum.

Finally, passing through the Clock Gate, we were at the very core of the old citadel.

to the presence of the Statue of the Victor or Statue of Victory  a monument erected on 1928 to commemorate the Kingdom of Serbia’s war victories over the Ottoman Empire (First Balkan War) and Austria-Hungary (World War I). It is one of the most famous works of Ivan Meštrović and the name of the statue represents the Victory of Liberty.

The statue was originally supposed to be placed on the Terazije square, but ended up at the Belgrade Fortress after people complained about its nudity (and seeing it where it is now, we couldn’t think of a better place, to be honest). The statue, holds a falcon, on watch for the new threats on the horizon, in one hand, and a sword of war, ready to counter these threats in the other. It’s looking forward across the confluence of the Sava and the Danube, and over the vast Pannonian plain, towards the very distant Fruška Gora mountain, towards the (at the time), Austro-Hungarian empire, and it is probably the most powerful, most popular visual symbol of Belgrade.

From there the view over the two rivers, just before the sunset was amazing………….

Inside the old citadel it was like being taken back in time……………

One of the gems inside is the Rose Church.

A church of the same name existed on the site in the time of Stefan Lazarević. It was demolished in 1521 by the invading Ottoman Turks. Today’s church was a gunpowder magazine in the 18th century, and was converted into a military church between 1867 and 1869. Heavily damaged during the First World War, the church was renovated in 1925. The iconostasis was carved by Kosta Todorović, and the icons painted by Rafailo Momčilović. The walls were covered in paintings by Andrej Bicenko, a Russian artist. 

Too bad the church was closed at the time………….

 
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Posted by on November 11, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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